It sounded as if we were dragging a huge metal chain beneath the car as we hit the brakes and pulled off the highway in Missoula. Luckily, we were less than a mile from Mitch and Melissa’s house, owners of Ludwig Camper Van Beethoven and Gertrude. We ignored the bus problems for the evening and shared that beer and pizza. We rolled in pretty late, so their daughter was already asleep, but Bode still enjoyed all her toddler toys. Especially the plastic keyboard- he’d never seen anything like it!
Bode was eager to lend a hand making selections from Mitch’s vinyl collection. Despite Mitch’s clear unease, he let Bode pick out some classic Stones (his dad’s) and a few other goodies. The “don’t touch dad’s vinyl” rules that have been in effect over the decades are still being enforced across the country. Bode had to admit he’s never seen a record player, which is probably true.
We spent the evening swapping stories… my favorite was their transmission problems in Death Valley– car stuck in 2nd gear. What would you do? Well, they decided to drive it home to Santa Barbara over 400 miles away—at a speed of about 28 mph. It took them 2 days.
The next morning the guys got to work on those brakes. We actually brought along spare brake pads, but I think getting the tires off took the longest. Tools were bent. Anyway, the old pads were worn down to the metal backing, so problem solved.
While the guys worked on the bus, Melissa and I took the kids on a walk near the river. Lots of stick throwing, duck watching and fun facts about Missoula.
Their family had moved to Missoula because it offered all the things they were looking for when choosing a place to live–close to lots of camping, mountains, good quality of life and a community spirit. Sounded good to us, and when we explored the town with them we could see why they loved it. Mitch and Melissa are hard core winter campers, so we got a few ideas on keeping warm. Unfortunately, most involved more stuff.
The famous Carousel wasn’t running, but the kids loved the park next to it and river that apparently needed more rocks added to it.
There was so much to do and they were such a cool family we wished we had more time. We are shooting to visit our good friends in Wisconsin by Halloween, and time is not on our side. Might be time for a new plan.